This week I'm going to take a look at a couple stat lines that interested me, and then take a look ahead at Dallas.
DeAngelo Hall- There has probably been no bigger beneficiary to the Redskins having an increased pass rush than D-Hall. Through two games so far, Hall has played a lot better than he did last year, and a lot of that can probably be contributed to a defensive pass rush that ensures that the receivers don't have time to get separation. Yes, Hall gave up the big play TD, but other than that he held Fitzgerald in check. If you subtract the 73 yard gain from the 109 yards that Hall gave up, that means the average yards on the other 5 completions was 7.2, which you'd take any day.
Ryan Kerrigan- Kerrigan followed up his good debut, with a great encore. He was all over the field on Sunday, registering 1 sack, 4 quarterback pressures, a batted pass and three tackles. Kerrigan came up with a number of big plays, and showed why the Redskins believe he can be an effective bookend to Brian Orakpo.
Rex Grossman- One of the biggest knocks on Grossman is that he he can't complete the ball down field outside the numbers. So far this season there have been some issues, but really it is a left side vs right side issue. Throwing the ball 10+ yards in the air outside the numbers to the left, Grossman is 5-7 for 115 yards and one touchdown. Throwing to the right though, Grossman is just 2-7 for 43 yards and a TD (Santana Moss). If there continues to be such a discrepancy look for teams to blitz more from the left, hoping to force Grossman to throw to the right side.
Misleading Stat Of the Week: Rich Campbell posted a stat about Rex Grossman against the blitz that seems to be misinterpreted by some people out there. Campbell's stat, was Grossman's numbers against the blitz (5 or more rushers) this week were 12-15 for 146 yards, a TD, INT and sack. This has led to a few people to suggest that Rex Grossman has been effective under pressure this year. This seems to be due to the fact that people assume that a blitz=pressure, but that isn't necessarily true. While the intention is for the blitz to generate a pressure (ideally a sack), if you only rush 5 guys and the 5 linemen, plus any backs or TE's handle their men, no pressure is generated. So while the stat shows very well how Grossman can find holes in coverages, and recognizes that he needs to make quick throws, it is not an indicator of how he preforms under pressure.
Unfortunately, like many quarterbacks pressure is Grossman's Achilles heel. Of his 82 drop-backs, Grossman has been under pressure for 28 of them. They have resulted in 5 sacks, 2 throwaways, 9 completions in 23 attempts, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. That gives Grossman a 39% completion rate while under pressure, and his passes have amounted to just 76 of Grossman's nearly 600 yards. That is pretty ugly, as is his 3.3 yards per attempt while under pressure.
What to watch for this week:
With much of the Cowboys offense banged up, the Redskins need to set the tone defensively. Not only can it keep points off the board, and give your offense good field position, but if the defense is shutting down their offense you can get the crowd out of the game. The best way for Washington to do this is to attack their offensive line, use a number of run and pass blitzes that will hopefully keep the Cowboys going backwards.
Given their cap situation the Cowboys had to part with a number of offensive linemen this offseason, leading to three new faces on their line. Injuries during the truncated camp, meant that this unit hasn't been able to get on the same page, and that is where the Redskins need to take advantage. Their line seems to be very disjointed right now, and if attacked properly could allow quite a few big plays for the Redskins. The Cowboys tackles are their strength, so I'd look to attack their middle, with stunts and inside blitzes.
When the Redskins are on offense they could have an advantage against the Cowboys secondary, if they can keep the pressure off Grossman. The Cowboys defensive backs, haven't looked so great this year, and that has been against Mark Sanchez and Alex Smith, which means if given time Grossman could have a field day.
Dallas is one of the league leaders so far in generating pressure, and they are led as always by OLB DeMarcus Ware. Ware already has 4 sacks, 5 pressures and a QB hit this season. For the Skins to succeed, they need to stop Ware and keep him off Grossman's back.
Normally, I'd say the Redskins need to establish a running game to keep some of the pressure off, but the Cowboys have done well against the run this season. Instead I'd look to utilize more screen passes to hopefully make the defense pay for blitzing.
The other thing the Redskins should do, is tweak their general strategy to ensure that Ware isn't the deciding factor in the game. So far this season the Redskins have more or less let their tight ends have a free release off the line, instead of having them help out and chip the edge rusher. While this has allowed Fred Davis to get down field and catch a number of 15-20 yard passes, it has also left the tackles basically one-on-one. Against Ware though the Redskins might not have that luxury. It won't matter if Davis runs a perfect 20 yard route if Grossman is on the ground. What I'd look to do is at least have the TE chip Ware to hopefully slow him down enough for Williams or Brown to finish him off. This might mean that the Skins tight ends won't stretch the field as much, but it should buy Grossman time on enough plays to find the open receiver.
Steve Shoup has been a Redskins fan his entire life and dreams of the day they get back to the glory days of his youth. In addition to his regular piece on Hogs Haven, you can find his daily writings at Fanspeak.com.